[Fiches draft] Christian Harris (LB), the infernal pursuit

Christian Harris – Linebacker – 21 years old – Junior – Alabama

Cut : 1m84

Weight : 102kg

Estimated draft position: 2e – 3e tower

Stats 2021: 15 games, 91.5 tackles including 11.5 for loss, 5.5 sacks, 3 passes defended, 2 forced fumbles

NFL Comparison: Matt Milano (Bills)

Strong points

– Lateral mobility
– Versatility
– Template
– Air Defense

Christian Harris has the profile of the typical NFL linebacker with a powerful upper body and a muscular lower part. Combined with this size, Harris is also an exceptional athlete who thrives in the spaces when the action is in front of him. In the running game, he remains a physical presence capable of delivering powerful shots to the ball carriers. But not only. He moves incredibly well and shows a good change of direction. He springs through the gaps to be a force as a blitzer. But above all has a very solid lateral agility to pursue the ball carrier from one touchline to another on running situations.

His athletic faculties, combined with his experience as a defensive back in the high school ranks allow him to hold his rank in coverage. He played in several positions for the Crimson Tide, including WILL, MIKE, and nickel defender. Thanks to his speed and the quickness of his hips, he can change direction quickly and reorient himself to follow his target. Thus, he has the versatility to cover running backs outside the backfield on Wheel layouts, stay in contact with tight ends on deep balls or stop receivers in the slot.

Weak points

– Tackles
– Game behind his back
– Lack of automation on his post
– Irregular

As you’d expect from someone who’s only been in the position for three years, Harris is a raw talent linebacker who too often wants to look for a big hit. He also lacks regularity, especially in his reading speed or the tenacity he puts in to finish an action. On some occasions, he quickly diagnoses the game and blows it up. Other times, he hesitates or takes too long in his reading and finds himself overwhelmed.

One of the main concerns is with the tackle as a whole. Although he is able to attack the ball carrier, he must refine his technique and attack angles. He has an annoying tendency to lower his head and throw himself on his opponent too soon, instead of closing the distance in order to secure his hold. Result: Too many missed tackles (has had double-digit missed tackles in every college season)

In coverage, although he excels when the ball is in front of him, Harris needs to develop a better awareness of the game behind his back. There are many instances where receivers sneak up behind him without him seeing them. That could limit Harris to teams adept at individual coverage at the NFL level.

The stat

4 seconds 44 on the 40 yards dash and 3 meters 35 in the long jump during the Combine

We knew he was athletic, he demonstrated it during the various workshops at the Combine. Harris stood out performing the 2e best time on the sprint and the 2e long jump performance. His speed and explosiveness also showed on the other exercises, where he constantly remained balanced and in control.

Possible destinations

Los Angeles Chargers, New York Giants, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots

Harris is a versatile linebacker who can line up on 3 attempts. He’s valuable because he can defend against the run and has the athleticism to line up against tight ends or running backs in aerial coverage. He will flourish best in a 4-3 defense as WILL, where his responsibilities will be defined (linebacker on the “weak” side, aligned on the part of the field where there are fewer offensive players facing him). There are also scenarios where he will play inside thanks to his cover skills. But given his low experience in the position, he might need time to reach his full potential.

Detroit needs an « off ball linebacker » with speed, Christian Harris sticks to the sketch. De’Vandre Campbell is back in Green Bay, but still missing a 2e man to do the number. Position specialist, Joe Barry (DC) could shape the player to the basics of the position. The Giants need to strengthen their second defensive curtain both against the run and on air cover. The profile of the young man can stick to the job description. A versatility that has something to appeal to Brandon Staley, head coach of the Chargers, and defensive brain who likes to vary the assignments in his schemes. Much like Bill Belichick at the Patriots who needs an impact piece at this level to punch the pocket.

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